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Building a Pain-Free Body


Wendy Taylor

Different types of arthritis and arthritis-related conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and gout affect the joints and connective tissues and can cause debilitating pain.

Although it may sound like a distant dream, you can get and maintain a body free from the pains of arthritis and other joint pains without destroying other aspects of your health with dangerous prescription medications. A pain-free body can be achieved with changes to your diet and exercise program accompanied by proven therapies like acupuncture and physical therapy.

Lower your arthritis risk factors

If you don't already have arthritis or an arthritis-related condition, then it is important to take steps to lower your risk factors. One of the biggest risk factors for arthritis is being overweight. Your body is only designed to carry around so much weight, and too much extra puts excessive strain on your joints and can cause your cartilage to become damaged, leading to arthritic conditions.

Old injuries that were not properly cared for are another leading risk factor. An untreated joint injury can cause the cartilage to deteriorate, resulting in acute arthritis in the injured joint. If you injure yourself, make sure you get it checked out by a professional!

Some forms of arthritis and arthritis-related conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus can be caused by genetics. In these cases there is not as much that you can do to prevent them, but you can slow the onset and reduce the symptoms by reducing your other risk factors, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

Heal Yourself

Being overweight is not only a risk factor but also worsens your symptoms and speeds the degeneration of your cartilage. It may be a difficult task to lose weight, but if you suffer from joint pain, then it is well worth it. Losing even 5% of your body weight can reduce your joint pain by up to 40%[4], and losing weight doesn't just relieve stress from your joints, it improves your mobility too. Keeping a full range of motion in your joints is important because limited movement causes stiffer joints and more pain.

Another key to relieving your chronic joint pain is making the right food choices. You can read more about food and supplement choices to reduce joint pain in another article titled "Eliminating Joint Pain without Putting Your Health at Risk" . It also talks about over-the-counter and prescription drugs and why you should avoid them.

Changing your eating habits is one step to achieving the goal of a pain-free body, but it is also very important to get enough exercise.

Strength training is one of the best types of exercise for joint pain. Doing weight lifting or any other controlled resistance exercise will build stronger muscles, which will in turn provide better support to joints and give you more flexibility. More support plus more flexibility means that everyday tasks will be easier and cause you less pain.

Other types of exercise that help with joint pain are range-of-motion exercises, which include dance, yoga, and endurance training, which is cardiovascular or aerobic exercises like water aerobics or biking.

Working-out regularly with all three types of exercises (strength training, range-of-motion, and endurance) is ideal. Just remember to warm up and stretch before doing any kind of exercise in order to prevent injuries. Leaving time for your body to rest is important as well. It is recommended that every other day of having worked-out is left to resting. However, before you begin a new exercise program, talk to your health care practitioner to make sure that it will be beneficial for your condition.

There are also several safe and effective natural therapies for your body that will help relieve your pain. Acupuncture, which is the practice of inserting very thin needles into specific points along the nervous system, has been used to relieve pain for thousands of years and is supported by recent clinical research. A 2004 study showed that a four week course of acupuncture treatment significantly reduced neck and shoulder pain and that the pain relief continued for three years without the need for additional treatments[5].

If you don't like the idea of having needles stuck in you, massage therapy and physical therapy might sound like more appealing and pleasant ways of relieving your joint pain. For patients with limited mobility due to arthritis, massage and physical therapies can successfully improve pain, stiffness, function, and range of motion without side effects. In fact, one study even showed that the pain relief from massage therapy lasted longer than pain relief from standard medical care[6].

An odd therapy that has also been shown to provide pain relief is magnet therapy. One study involving patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee reported that patients had significant improvement in their pain, stiffness, and mobility after treatment with a high-intensity magnetic knee sleeve[8].

Another promising therapy is biofeedback which uses signals from various physiological functions of your body and makes adjustments to these functions. It has helped patients with rheumatoid arthritis by reducing clinic visits and hospital stay times[9].

One last natural therapy for arthritic joint pain is journaling. Some people find that by writing about stressful events, they can lower their stress levels, which helps reduce the symptoms of their arthritis. This is something you can do in the comfort of your home without the need to consult a physician. However, before trying any of the other types of therapies mentioned, make sure you consult with a licensed health practitioner experienced in treating your particular kind of joint pain.

Joint pain shouldn't stop you from doing the things that you love and it doesn't have to. If you maintain a healthy weight with exercise and a proper diet, your chances of living pain-free will be greatly increased. Trying some of the natural therapies mentioned here can further increase your chances and give your body a well-deserved break from the constant pain and increase your freedom to do the things you love. Just remember, it's all about making the right lifestyle choices.



References:
[1]Goodman, Brenda . "Knee Osteoarthritis Study: Recruiting by Age, Race and More.” Arthritis Foundation. 15 Sept. 2008 . http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/osteoarthritis/news-and-research/knee-study-demographics.php.Viewed: 22 Mar. 2011

[2]Rafkin, Louise, "Are your knees Letting You Down?" Alternative Medicine. (http://www.jarrow.com/article/121/Are_Your_Knees_Letting_You_Down), Viewed: 22 Mar. 2011

[3]Fatouros, IG, Taxildaris K, Tokmakidis SP, et al. "The effects of strength training, cardiovascular training and their combination on flexibility of inactive older adults." International Journal Sports Medicine 2002

[4] Sears, Al M.D. "The Natural Steps to Total Joint Pain Relief," Chestertown, MD: Almark Publishing, 2005

[5] He D, Veirsted KB, Hostmark AT, Medjo JI. "Effect of Acupuncture Treatment on Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain in Sedentary Female Workers: a 6-month and 3-year Follow-up Study," Pain 2004

[6] Walach H, Guthlin C Konig M. "Efficacy of Massage Therapy in Chronic Pain: a Pragmatic Randomized Trial," Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2003

[7]Messier SP, Loeser RF, Miller GD, et al. "Exercise and Dietary Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis: the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotional Trial," Arthritis & Rheumatism 2004

[8]Chung-Yao Chen, Chia-Ling Chen, Steele Chih-Chin Hsu, Shih-Wei Chou, Kun-Chung Wang "Effect of Magnetic Knee Wrap on Quadriceps Strength in Patients With Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis"
Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 1 December 2008 (volume 89 issue 12 Pages 2258-2264)

[9]Young, Larry D., Bradley, Laurence A., Turner, Robert A. "Decreases in health care resource utilization in patients with rheumatoid arthritis following a cognitive behavioral intervention".
Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 1995-09-01, Issue 3 Volume 20, 259-268

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